The SLF Salmon Fly (Santa’s Little Helper)

The SLF, a full dressed Atlantic salmon fly featuring good use of barred wood duck in the traditional way.

I came up with the SLF Salmon Fly a few years ago just before Christmas. The idea was to include as many of the steps of tying a full dressed Atlantic salmon fly in a new pattern as I could. Because of the Season, the pattern was to have a Holiday Spirit to it. I don’t remember how the name Santa’s Little Helper stuck, but that may have been because of the little Santa’s cap at the head of the fly.

Barred wood duck shows up in a couple of places in the SLF Salmon Fly. Most obvious is in the tail. Here a section of barred wood duck is used as the veiling for the long golden pheasant crest tail. The dark solid bars of the wood duck contrast well with the bright yellow, help to define the tail, and add some overall balance to the theme of the fly.

The second use of barred wood duck in the SLF pattern is a very traditional one for Atlantic salmon flies. In this use a barred wood duck strip is paired with a strip of teal duck flank as a wing veiling. Never an easy task the small strips are married together (hooked up so the feathers lock and mesh) with the teal on the bottom and the wood duck on top. Care has too be taken so the both strips are from the same side of the feather quill or they will not mesh. Often troublesome is the teal which you can never seem to obtain in sizes that are long enough! Once wood duck and teal are locked together in a single piece that piece is added to the side of the wing. Actually a second wood duck and teal strip is added to the other side of the main wing, so two strips, mirror images of each other, have to made. They are added at the same time with a pinch grip to the wing between thumb and index fingers, and a careful half turn/loop of the tying thread over the wing at the tie in point and a fast “drop” of the bobbin. This is a fly tying technique that has to be practiced over and over again and is much too involved to get into here. In this wing the teal and wood duck wing veiling can be seen raising just above the head of the jungle cock eye feather and extending about half the length of the total wing.

Well thats about it on barred wood duck. I’m starting to think about the uses of bronzed mallard for fly tying. Both Santa’s Little Helper and I wish all a Merry Christmas 2010!

SLF Salmon Fly graces the cover of Patent Pattern with recipe inside the book.

The SLH (Santa’s Little Helper) Salmon Fly was published on the cover of Patten Patterns 1,500 Unique and Innovative Fly Patterns a book edited and photographed by Jim Schollmeyer. The recipe for the SLH Salmon Fly can be found inside. The book is available hardbond or softbond from Frank Amato Publications, Inc., P.O.Box 82112, Portland, Oregon 97282.


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